By: Wandering Wino
Ballard Canyon is the newest recognized wine region inside of Santa Barbara County.
What does this mean?
A couple of things, starting with wine labels likely will show off the new AVA name, Ballard Canyon. In my view, on some level there is a science to this, and on the other hand, it becomes marketing.
As Ballard Canyon is noted for producing stellar Rhones (like Viognier,Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne, Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Petite Sirah, among others), it can become a platform for the wine market. Just like the Oakville AVA of the Napa Valley has showcased itself as being a premiere Cabernet region, Ballard Canyon will have the same opportunity. I had a chance to discuss the new AVA with Keith Saarloos of Saarloos and Sons. Keith says, "It's like a dot on the map or a zip code. Every sommelier has to know Ballard Canyon now." With the new AVA recognized officially, I asked Keith how he will label his wines that have been labeled Santa Ynez Valley (other wineries have opted for Santa Barbara County). He said, "Ballard Canyon AVA."
Another destination and purpose for the new AVA is being different in aspects such as climate, soil, rain, wind, and temperature variance. Each grape requires different conditions of climate, weather, leafing, trellising, and farming, to shine in the best possible light.
In a previous article I wrote about 'How To Buy Wine Like A Champion', I suggested buying very specific wines from regions that are best suited for their respective grapes. It is kind of supporting the similar concept of ordering a steak at a steak house, and fish at a fish house. So do not drink Chardonnay from Mexico or buy Cabernet from Alaska. It would, however, be wise to consider Rhones from Ballard Canyon.
A part of the marketing idea is that this specific region of Ballard Canyon that sits inside of the larger Santa Ynez Valley, has specific conditions to produce very high quality Rhones, some Bordeaux varietals, and a little Sangiovese. As consumers get out, taste the wines, see the labeling, they will begin to identify high quality wines from this region.
Many Santa Barbara wine industry professionals and residents have been clear in their interest to stay on the smaller side in Santa Barbara County, with a smaller community,and simply produce stellar wines. So far, Santa Barbara has done an excellent job of maintaining more of a community vibe, less build-up, and less big brand business which is often seen in other wine regions. That'old-school' vibe is a big piece of the romance to Santa Barbara wine country in my view.
No hotels, restaurants, water parks, bungy jumps or bouncy castles can be found inside of Ballard Canyon, just beautiful vineyards, country roads, ranches, and a few wineries. I have often shared with many others that Ballard Canyon is one of the most beautiful drives in wine country.
From my years of consuming great wines from Ballard Canyon, the high quality resonates an excitement for me each time I simply look at a bottle. So if it is tasting the wine, or simply being there in Ballard Canyon, it is no doubt an exciting place. Get out and explore for yourself if you haven't already!
Ballard Canyon Details:
Vineyards and Some Varietals:
Interesting stories from Santa Barbara Wine County.